Nova Scotians over 80 to start being vaccinated for COVID-19 this month

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Nova Scotians over 80 will start to be vaccinated for COVID-19 later this month, the provincial government announced Wednesday.

The first community-based COVID-19 vaccination clinic will begin on Feb. 22 and run until Feb. 25 at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, with further clinics to be established around the province in March.

"We're continuing vaccinations in our long-term care residences, but we also know older Nova Scoitans living at home need protection too," Premier Stephen McNeil said at a news briefing Wednesday.

The clinics will be invitation only, and those eligible will be identified through MSI and contacted by mail to schedule an appointment.

Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health, said the IWK clinic will only be able to vaccinate a "small number of people."

Communications Nova Scotia
Communications Nova Scotia

"We're calling it our prototype. But we will learn from that and when we're able to have more of these clinics and sustain them, we'll have more effective, efficient clinics," he said at a briefing.

In March, there will be nine more community-based clinics for those over 80, in the Halifax Regional Municipality, Truro, Cape Breton Regional Municipality, Kentville, Yarmouth, Antigonish, Amherst and Bridgewater.

After individuals 80 and older receive their vaccine, people between 75 and 79 will be vaccinated. Strang said vaccinations will continue in declining five-year age blocks until all Nova Scotians are immunized.

"Our goal is for all Nova Scotians to have an opportunity to get two doses of the vaccine as quickly as possible," he said.

"The way to do that is to focus mainly on age, so I ask everyone to support this process and to come forward when it's your turn. This is, once again, about putting our collective health and well-being before our individual health and well-being."

Phase 2 vaccinations

Nova Scotia has started identifying working groups who will be immunized during Phase 2 of the province's vaccination rollout, which is expected to begin in the spring. They include:

  • Anyone who works in a hospital and has contact with patients.

  • Doctors and nurses who work in the community.

  • Dentists and dental hygienists.

  • Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians.

  • Those who live in large group settings or work directly with them, including correctional facilities, shelters and temporary foreign workers' quarters.

  • Those who are responsible for food security and cannot maintain public health protocols due to the nature of their work, including those in food processing plants.

  • Those who are required to regularly travel in and out of the province for work, such as truck drivers and rotational workers. This does not include those who travel to New Brunswick every day for work.

Vaccine supplies expected this week

Like the rest of Canada, Nova Scotia has been facing vaccine supply constraints caused by Pfizer-BioNTech pausing production in Belgium to increase long-term capacity.

The province has been reserving second doses of the vaccine due to constraints.

"I'm really pleased to say that every Nova Scotia who received their first shot, will get their second dose. We want to see those first shot numbers climb as well, but all of that will depend on supply," McNeil said.

Nova Scotia is expected to receive 1,950 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines and 4,000 Moderna vaccines by the end of this week.

Communications Nova Scotia
Communications Nova Scotia

Strang said Nova Scotia should have a reliable vaccine delivery schedule by May. He also said the province has received almost 29,000 vaccines since Dec. 15.

As of Tuesday, 15,837 doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been administered in the province, including 3,457 second doses.

The province also said pharmacists and physicians who want to administer COVID-19 vaccines at clinics will soon be able to do that.

Prototype pharmacy clinics will start in early March, with plans to expand to more locations by early April.

1 new case

One new case of COVID-19 was reported in Nova Scotia on Wednesday, bringing the number of active cases to 11.

The new case is in the central health zone and is related to travel outside the region. The person is self-isolating, according to a news release from the province.

Two people are in hospital with the virus, including one in ICU.

Nova Scotia Health labs conducted 1,617 tests on Tuesday.

New flight exposure

Nova Scotia Public Health is warning of a new potential COVID-19 exposure on a flight to Halifax from Toronto.

Anyone who was on the following flight in the specified rows and seats should immediately book a test using the province's self-assessment website or by contacting 811, regardless of whether they have COVID-19 symptoms or not.

  • WestJet flight 3346 travelling on Jan. 30 from Toronto (9 a.m.) to Halifax (12:31 p.m.). Passengers in rows 8-14, seats A, B and C.

All other passengers should continue to self-isolate and monitor for symptoms of COVID-19. Anyone exposed to the virus on this flight may develop symptoms up to, and including, Feb. 9.

Atlantic bubble update

McNeil said there's been no recent discussion about reopening the Atlantic bubble.

"Restrictions with New Brunswick will have to stay in place for some time," he said Wednesday, adding that Nova Scotia will put public health first, especially as more cases are identified in New Brunswick.

Three cases of a virus variant first detected in the United Kingdom were reported in New Brunswick on Tuesday. One case was related to travel within Canada, and the other two were related to international travel.

Residents of Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador are still able to visit Nova Scotia without isolating, while New Brunswick residents must self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival.

Atlantic Canada case numbers